I've decided to start a list for my favorite album finds of 2011. These aren't necessarily new releases from 2011, and sure, we're already late into the year so it's a bit retrospective. I usually find my favorite albums many years after they've been released. Here are some questions I might ask myself to determine what makes this list:
- Are at least half of the tracks on the album really good?
- Would I pay to buy the album?
- Should the album be played in its entirety (front to back vs shuffled)?
- Do I think I'll still listen to these albums in the upcoming years?
I'll expand on my choices in time. Here we go...Radiohead - Kid A 9.5/10
I've known of the tracks of this album for quite some time, but only recently have I come to appreciate the album in its entirety. Until just a few months ago, I thought OK Computer and In Rainbows were the best of Radiohead, but the amazing design of this album goes to show that there is always something to be found in the band if you listen more closely. Experimentally, I put it on par with Dark Side of the Moon. The album will disturb those who find comfort in the acoustic rock nature of The Bends - at least it did for me. Add in the context of the band's evolution, the inexplicable success in the charts, and it's near impossible to pass this one off as just another Radiohead album. Be advised - This one is certainly best absorbed through headphones in its entirety - Do not allow interuptions! Alison Krauss & Union Station - Paper Airplane 9.5/10
Such a timely album with great relevance. Alison Krauss has the voice of an angel, and Dan Tyminski's voice brings sophistication to a genre of music I never thought I'd really enjoy. This album is far from what I'd expect to find from a country radio station, and perhaps that's why it was so accessible to me. Each track is potent with meaning and beauty, both instrumentally and lyrically. This album is near perfect by design, and I regret not having seen it performed live while I had the chance.The Cinematic Orchestra - Remi 9/10
Excellent background music for studying, or a mellow hookah atmosphere. This is jazz that I can love. Thanks Last.fm for helping me find this group via my interest in Bonobo. It's very easy to keep this one in heavy rotation.The Jezabels - Dark Storm EP 8.5/10
Power pop with a bit of post rock. The tracks, while being similar in form and sound, have a dynamic that is just right for short drives by one's self. This 5 track EP has more than just amazing vocals and driving rhythmic composition. The progression in "A Little Piece" sets this one above "She's So Hard EP" below.The Devil Makes Three - The Devil Makes Three 8.5/10
Earlier this year, a coworker and I decided to exchange some of our favorite albums. This was the first one he shared with me, and I delved into it enthusiastically. It's an easy one to love with tracks like "The Plank", "Graveyard" and "Ten Feet Tall". This album marked a shift in my music listening for the year, and I look forward to where this new appreciation for folk blues can go. The Devil Makes Three is solid string trio, and as written in their last.fm bio, they're 'the best band you've never heard of.'The Jezabels - She's So Hard EP 8/10
Similar in form to Dark Storm, this album is a great alternative to keep from playing out the same few songs. This album has a big sound with powerful tracks like 'The Man Is Dead'. I'm looking forward to new releases from this up-and-coming band.Fink - Bisuits For Breakfast 7/10
See 'Remi' and substitute jazz for soul and organic composition. There's a depth to Fink that I'm only beginning to discover, and I enjoy what I'm hearing. This one inspires me to dust off my acoustic guitar and get back into simple (but meaningful) song writing.
More to come!